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7 Creative Tricks to Save Your Time and Boost Work Productivity

7 Creative Tricks to Save Your Time and Boost Work Productivity
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This is one of the never ending subjects all busy people think about on a daily basis. There are various methods people use to boost their work productivity and many theories as to how one should approach this issue. We always want to achieve more and use the most of our each day.

In spite of all of the information you can find online on this topic, I feel like most of the advice really misses the point. It’s not about having thousands of solutions such as gadgets or habits up your sleeve. Having so many things to think about and organize is really only taking away your time and not helping you make the most out of it.

A lot of people end up being disrupted by their gadgets, apps, and habits because they miss the point. The point is not to adopt as many tricks as you can, but instead to use them properly. If you approach things the right way, they can work in your favor. If not, you will not achieve any results, and you will feel even more stressed than before.

1. Create a list of things you absolutely must do.

Create a short list, either on some phone app or on a piece of paper. This list should include the things that are essential to be done during that day and you should consider it sacred. You should use it as a reminder so that you don’t lose focus of what’s important. Create a couple of columns that shortly outline what must be done, or if you have to, add short specifics that concern that task.

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It should not be more complicated than that. This is your code, and you must stick to it at all times. Never allow something else to get in your way of achieving the goals you’ve set for a certain day. This brings us to the next trick.

2. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked in.

Saying to yourself “I must stay on schedule” is easy, but it’s often a hard thing to achieve, especially if you have an important position and everyone wants a piece of you. I can’t even count the number of days I woke up in the morning thinking that I won’t let anyone disrupt my plans during the day, and realizing after work that what happened was the complete opposite.

3. Use tools and apps.

You have probably created lists or flash cards with your responsibilities at some point, to see if that will motivate you to be more productive. To be honest it can work to some extent, but just like anything else, it can become tedious after some time.

A more interesting way of keeping track and increasing productivity is by using apps and tools. For example, at my workplace, we try different management tools just to keep things neatly organized and more entertaining. We use things like Toggl to collaborate on group projects, to have a smooth workflow and task distribution and to keep track of time. When you complete a project and know just how long it took you to complete it, you treat that time as a high score. Afterwards, you work harder in order to beat the record.

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We have also used Basecamp and Trello, since these apps can also work for group projects. However, it does not mean that you cannot use these tools outside the workplace as well. You can create lists of responsibilities and reminders can pop up on your computer or smartphone. You can even use it as a family, to distribute chores amongst each other. Give it a try; it really works.

4. Create hourly challenges.

This thing does not have an official name, although some people love to say – “get in the zone” but I just call it an hourly challenge. Basically, you challenge yourself to be fully focused and devoted to work for a whole hour. You set an alarm to go off, and once you start, you are not allowed to do anything outside of the task at hand.

Whenever we work, we tend to doze off and we just allow our train of thought to navigate our thinking, but if you are one hundred percent focused on your task for a whole hour, you will see just how much you can accomplish.

It’s important that you take a short break afterwards, before you get into another hourly challenge, because avoiding this can be really mentally exhausting.

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5. Take small breaks.

One thing that can seriously harm your productivity is work overload. You take on additional tasks and go all out on one day, and then you have a hard time mustering enough willpower to continue to work on the following day or for a whole week. It’s important that you do not overburden yourself, and that you take on moderate portions of your workload.

If you combine the hourly challenge with enough small breaks, you can get everything done really fast. Plus, you’ll have the rest of your day to recharge, and you won’t have an impression that you are exhausted, which will allow you to continuously work at the same level of productivity. With small breaks, you won’t get more work done, but you will manage to maintain the same level of healthy productivity, which is rather important.

6. Segment more copious tasks.

If there is one thing that will discourage you, it’s massive projects. When you know that you are going to work for a whole day, but you still won’t be able to complete the entire task, you will only end up feeling bad. So, when this happens, you need to segment the tasks into smaller parts, and view those smaller parts as daily tasks. It will make it easier for you to track your progress, and have a better sense of achievement after each day.

7. Group work.

Lastly, if you are having a hard time focusing, maybe you should try working in groups, provided that these groups consist of people who are eager to get the job done. When you are working in a group, you get that inner pressure of not wanting to hinder anyone, so you stay focused. You do not want to come off as irresponsible, so you force yourself to pay attention and be involved.

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To sum up, people very often face this problem, and it’s perfectly natural to lose enthusiasm. So, in order to solve these problems you need to innovate and try different tactics, you can also switch your tasks and do something a bit different, so that you are not doing the same things each day. It will also be useful to give group work a try or to try to come up with challenges to motivate yourself.

Feel free to use apps and to organize your tasks a bit differently to add more dynamics to your schedule, and you’ll be fine. Additionally, do not hesitate to fully utilize your holidays, and take a good rest, and make a good use of your free days, because if you want to stay productive on a long run you need to be fully rested.

Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/StartupStockPhotos-690514/ via pixabay.com

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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